The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts


  • Pin It
Smita's picture

Easily the best non-sourdough loaf I have ever made. Followed instructions to the letter.

What surprised me the most was how incredibly light the loaf was. Very good for morning toast. Best within 3-4 days. Thank you Peter Reinhart and BBA!


ehanner's picture

Just recently, Mariana-Aga, a fellow baker who I have great respect for and who is an occasional poster here, presented a very interesting paper with extensive photos on the development of gluten. For the purposes of her research and documentation she used a food processor to mix and develop, then over develop the dough. All of the various stages are carefully documented and you can see the tell tale signs of the dough being over worked and ruined.

 This experiment shows what over kneading will do to your dough. It is also possible to over develop your dough by simply over fermenting it, either at room temperature or in the refrigerator. We have all had a dough turn slack and sticky from not being attended to in the proper time.In fact unless you use a food processor, it is very hard to mechanically over develop or over mix your dough at home. The mixers most home bakers use are not capable of over mixing unless you take a long nap while mixing.

If you don't learn anything more from this great post other than to finally know that there is no fixing it if you get in this situation. I have tried adding more flour to the extreme, and it never works. You may as well resign yourself that this will never be right and toss it in the compost.

If you have seen this, you know what I'm talking about!

And finally, I learned a nice trick for cleaning that unbelievably sticky gooey dough mess from my bowls and hands. This alone is reason enough to visit this very informative blog post by Mariana.. I hope some of you find it as interesting as I have.


PS: This page is written in Russian. Google Translate had no trouble translating to English.

Zeb's picture

I hope this is ok to do this as I can't find the posts I wanted to add these too as I am new here.  Yesterday I made these breads, a yeasted dough cottage loaf, following Elizabeth David's method (first time I have ever baked a loaf from a cold start!)  and the pain de sielge d'auvergne, I think its lineage goes as follows, Daniel Leader, LeadDog and Mick of Bethesdabakers, thank you all for this recipe -  and my usual Pain de Campagne.  

Anyway I wanted to share the photos with you. The rye burst at the side because I wasn't sure whether or not to slash the top, obviously I should have done.

Sun shining here in Bristol!  all the best Zeb (on the internet nobody knows you're a dog!)

Zeb's picture

I hope this is ok to do this as I can't find the posts I wanted to add these too as I am new here.  Yesterday I made these breads, a yeasted dough cottage loaf, following Elizabeth David's method (first time I have ever baked a loaf from a cold start!)  and the pain de sielge d'auvergne, I think its lineage goes as follows, Daniel Leader, LeadDog and Mick of Bethesdabakers, thank you all for this recipe -  and my usual Pain de Campagne.  


Anyway I wanted to share the photos with you. The rye burst at the side because I wasn't sure whether or not to slash the top, obviously I should have done.

Sun shining here in Bristol!  all the best Zeb (on the internet nobody knows you're a dog!)

bnom's picture

Today, finally, I got some bloomin ears!  

I've been playing with Susan (Wild Yeast) Norwich Sourdough and Floyd's San Joaquin sourdough on this site. I found the first too firm and sour, the second too slack and not sour enough, so I worked out my own formula...a happy marriage between the two.  And lo and behold---ears for the first time ever (in a dough not cooked in a dutch oven).  As it happens, I donated the bread for a friend's dinner party so no crumb shots.

I'm not sure what made the could be that I added about 200 gram Gold Medal AP to the Morbread AP I usually use.

The formula:

300 g firm starter

620 g water

730 g unbleached AP flour (530 g Morbread, and 200 g Gold Medal)

120 g dark rye flour

23 g salt





davidg618's picture

When I started this quest to improve my baking skills, about one year ago, my goals weren't very specific. "Get better at bread baking" was about the best I could do. And "find help" was about as refined as I could codify my approach. Fortunately, I stumbled upon The Fresh Loaf early in my search for that help. I feel I've come a long way in that one year. TFL's members and guests are my inspriation, the helping hand I reach to first, the friends who share my best looking loaves and worst mistakes. I also search far-afield, but my roots are here, still shallow, but growing.

Moreover, I hadn't given a thought beyond, "We'll eat them." to wondering what I'd do with the products of my quest. Since then I've made many more loaves than just the two of us could consume (without becoming well-bloomed, and "doughy" ourselves). I started taking my bread (the best looking loaves) to neighborhood potlucks--our community does a lot of them.  I shared other extras (the second-best-looking loaves) with select neighbors and friends. In the following months, the numbers of loaves shared and neighbors and friends in receipt grew. At Christmas I mailed sourdough loaves, Priority Mail, to select family who whould be honest with me if the bread arrived stale, or was not to their liking. This year i"ll gift loaves to all the family, and some far-distant friends. I'm relied on by neighborhood potluck hosts to bring bread.

Perhaps, the best early advice I received from TFLer's was "Pick a recipe, and practice, practice, practice, and...practice." To date, I'm confident I've got a basic sourdough bread and baguette formulae I trust my new skills to produce reliably and consistently, although I'm still working on shaping and scoring. At the moment, I bake each of them every week or ten days, and I'm working on a third: Jewish Rye. I've shared one loaf, so far, with a close, trusted couple; they rushed out and bought pastrami.

"Practice, practice, practice" has become my mantra.

I've got a slightly more specific goal now, "Build a repertoire of breads I can reliably and consistently produce.". I've got 2 and 1/2  so far. I have more than enough people eager for the output. (Yvonne and I will eat the worse-looking loaves, and the outright mistakes.) I'm havin' fun!

And I can now succinctly state how I might reach that goal: practice, practice, practice.

David G


Doughtagnan's picture

As I have been nurturing a white flour offspring of my usual rye starter I thought i'd give it a test bake with a 100% Strong White loaf before using it with some expensive french flour result was fine and as I add very little salt it tasted like a salt free Tuscan bread i've had in the past. Not much sourdough flavour though. The other loaf is my 2nd bash at Dan Lepards excellent walnut loaf but this time I ommitted the dried yeast and did a 100% sourdough version. It worked fine and I had seen other TFL members had tried this. I halved the recipe so only made the one "Pave" shaped loaf which will be ideal with some cheese over the weekend.  Partial loaves and compulsory crumbshots below!, cheers,  Steve

Shiao-Ping's picture

Many years ago our family lived in Singapore and I had a personal trainer.  Singapore is a young, vibrant society where sports may not be a big thing but going to the gym is popular.  I still remember that on the first day I looked around my gym and felt daunted by what I saw.  At the end of my first session, I asked my trainer how often I would have to train to look like her.   I like my trainer dearly, she is great; she said, "Oh, just three times a week!" 

It was well after we left Singapore that I worked out myself, No way José!

Many of us at The Fresh Loaf are not just interested in making a loaf.  Many of us are good cooks at home and have a broad interest in cuisine in general.  Have you ever watched cooking shows and wondered why those great chefs emphasize on fresh ingredients when all that you are interested in at that particular point in time was "the technique"?   No amount of "techniques" can turn ingredients of less than the most premium quality into exceptional dishes. 

I can research all I like, practice all I like, but if I can't lay my hands on the best ingredients, I won't have exceptional breads.

At different level of our learning, our masters reveal different level of knowledge to us; their purpose is to not scare us away at the beginning, and to not confuse us at the beginning (because we just won't be able to absorb all the knowledge in one go).  That was the well-intention meaning of my trainer, and of many masters!

Do home bakers need other people's exceptional breads at home?  You would be the judge for yourself. 

If you have the freshest seafood, how would you cook it?  Chinese would steam it to allow the freshest sweet taste reveal itself.   If you have the best flour, how would you bake with it?  Do you try to ferment it the best you can, so the natural flavour of flour "shine" through? 

What if your flour is good, but less than the best to your taste, what would you do?  Inject flavours!  I decided I would embark on experiments on flavour enhancers on bread.   

With this post, I have done four experiments with the T80 flour I have from France.  


(1)  T80 miche with garlic and continental parsley







 My Formula

  • 220 grams starter (refreshed using one part starter culture, two parts water and three parts T80 flour)

  • 440 grams water

  • 660 grams T80 flour

  • 15 grams salt

Total dough weight was 1.3 kg and overall dough hydration was 67%.  (Note:  The water for the main dough was two times the starter, and the flour was three times the starter.  The idea for the starter:water:flour ratio for the main dough came from Flo Makanai's 1.2.3 method for sourdough bread, a very clever and easy to follow formula.)


(1) Slow roast the garlic in 160 ºC oven for 1 1/2 hours or until very soft like cream.  Chop the parsley finely (discard the stalks).  Use 1 - 2 tbsp of butter (softened in room temperature) to bind the garlic and the parsley together with a pinch of salt.

(2) After bulk fermentation, divide the dough into two pieces, 400 grams and 920 grams.  Roll out the small one like a pizza base.  Spread the garlic parsley butter over it.  Shape the bigger dough into a boule.

(3) Place the boule (right side down) on the pizza base as shown on the picture above.  Fold the edges of the pizza base over the centre of the boule and turn the whole thing over (so the right side of the boule is now up).  Either prove free form or, as in my case, prove in a flour dusted banneton. 

I scored deep.  In my Body and Mind post, the boule was scored very shallow so as not to cut into the main dough inside.  But in this miche, the main dough underneath was also slashed.

All of the T80 miches in this post were baked using the covered method with no steaming required.  I baked at 245 ºC for 35 - 40 minutes covered, and then another 15 minutes uncovered. 





                                                                                               Lovely toasted in garlic parsley butter under the griller 

(2)  T80 miche with porcini and chicken stock





My Formula

  • 232 grams 65% T80 starter

  • 227 grams water

  • 694 grams T80 flour

  • 16 grams salt

for the porcini mixture

  • 24 grams dried porcini mushroom, soaked in 250 grams boiling chicken stock (unsalted) for an hour

  • Squeeze the liquid out of porcini, reserve all the liquid for the main dough

  • Chop the porcini roughly, then mix it with 1/2 to 1 tablespoon of dark brown sugar and a pinch of salt to try to bring some flavour back to the mushroom as most of its flavour will have lost to the liquid. Marinate for at least 1/2 hour.

Total dough weight was 1.4 kg and overall dough hydration was 68%.   This miche is very simple to make.   First, use the water to dilute the starter, then add the reserved chicken stock liquid and chopped porcini, then add flour and salt, mix thoroughly, then autolyse ... the rest is standard.





                                              Left                                                                                           right


This is one of the best flavoured miches I have dreamed of.   When I poured the almost darkened chicken stock into the starter, I was skeptical as to how well the little beasties in the starter would like being invaded by the foreign bodies from the porcini mushrooms.   But it turned out alright.  The crumb was very spongy with a strong mushroom savory aroma.   I used the bread to make giant chicken burger sandwiches - the works style with bacon and eggs, and lots of salad.   My kids loved them. 


(3)  T80 miche with dates and milk






My Formula

  • 262 grams 65% T80 starter

  • 530 grams of milk

  • 784 grams T80 flour

  • 18 grams salt

  • a big handful of good quality dates

Total dough weight was 1.6 kg (before the addition of dates) and overall dough hydration was 67%.  The dates were incorporated just before shaping.   Once the dough had done bulk fermenting, I flattened the dough completely on flour-dusted bench-top, and placed the dates one by one on the top of the dough as I de-stoned them.   I didn't keep count how many I had used, but as many as I could.   I then rolled up the dough and shaped it round. 




While I was taking the above photo, the sun was very strong.  But all of a sudden it went behind all the clouds (see photo below).  The true colour of the crumb was more like in between these two shots.




 (4)  T80 miche with bacon & pasta sauce



Cheap shot!






My Formula

  • 218 grams 65% T80 starter

  • 262 grams water

  • 654 grams T80 flour

  • 7 grams salt (1%)

for the bacon and pasta sauce

  • 170 grams bacon (the part that has no fat), diced and pan-fired in a tbsp of butter (once cooked, the bacon will reduce in weight to about 100 grams).

  • 270 grams of the pasta sauce, mixed into the cooked bacon. 

Total weight was 1.5 kg and approximate overall hydration was 67 - 68%.  (Depending on the consistency of your pasta or tomato sauce, you could increase your water.  In fact, my dough was slightly on the dry side.)

It was getting dark and cloudy.  I should have waited until the next morning to cut into this loaf.  But, NO, I had to see....






Sorry for the poor lighting.  I didn't want to use my camera flash light and I didn't want to turn on my kitchen halogen lights either. 

Well, this concludes my experiments.  It is too easy to inject flavours.  You can do anything you want.  One day I might roast a whole leg of lamb wrapped in sourdough bread and use a chainsaw to saw it.  My daughter said, "Don't be ridiculous." 

It is way harder to try to ferment the flour.


The cello is playing inside the house and outside the house the rain is falling.   I ask myself if this T80 flour is what I have been waiting for all this while.  It is interesting how I have been fixated on something and have lost sight of something else. 

Our family has been settled back in Oz for five years now.  This coming Easter we are going to Singapore for a small break, and to reacquaint ourselves where we left off five years ago.  The family is feeling an unexplained excitement. 

This Easter marks my one year anniversary since I began baking sourdough.  It has been a journey for me on many levels and I thank many people at The Fresh Loaf, as well as other on-line bread sites, for my development.  I started off doing something, but I ended up finding something else.  I am truly blessed. 

Thank you everyone here at TFL and wherever you may be.



jennyloh's picture

I made these today with a chef.  This recipe was meant to go into a bread machine,  which of course,  the machine is me.  I made this all by hand. I tried 2 things today.  1 was to cover the loaf with a claypot to bake,  and another stay in the claypot to bake.  Of course it turned out that the one that stayed in the claypot got a nicer crust - golden brown.

But somehow with this formula,  the bread didn't rise too much,  I might have overproof it - 1 1/2 hours.  Went out for supper during that time,  by the time I got back, the dough looks more than ready.  The one with the claypot covered had a little more rise,  as I baked it immediately after I return.  Here it is:


The one that goes into the claypot,  didn't rise much. Just a little jutting up from the top that I score.  


Both were not as crispy as I like....I still do not have baking stone....sigh....I can't find it in China yet....can someone send me one?!....  But the inside is chewy, soft,  and the taste is a little more salty - I don't know if this is because of the salt I added or the chef that was quite well was good over here in Shanghai...warming up...



The crumbs are well spread out,  not a lot of holes. And the 2 loaves have slightly different taste,  somehow the boule turns out to be less salty,  why?  perhaps I left it overnight in the fridge,  it had absorb what ever is in the dough.


I guess I can say this is a pass?...





dmsnyder's picture


I like variety, so I could never say that any one bread is “my favorite.” However, I can say that the “Five-Grain Sourdough with Rye Sourdough” from Hamelman's “Bread” would certainly be one of the candidates. It has a wonderful crunchy crust and a delicious complex flavor. It is fabulous fresh-baked. It stays moist for many days. It makes toast to die for. It is good unadorned or buttered, by itself or with other foods, for breakfast, lunch or dinner. It's, incidentally, full of really healthy stuff. Moreover, it's really easy to make, and it's beautiful to look at. What's not to like?

This bread is made with a rye sourdough but is also spiked with commercial yeast. The sourdough is fed and a soaker is soaked 14-16 hours before mixing, but once the dough is mixed, the fermentation and proofing are rather short. I started putting the dough together at around 12:30 pm, and the bread was out of the oven at around 4:30 pm.

Notes on the formula

  1. The overall hydration of the dough is 99%, but much of the water is absorbed by the soaker. The final dough is sticky, but like a rye bread dough not like a high-hydration white bread dough.

  2. Also note that all the salt is in the soaker. This is to inhibit enzyme activity. The salt percentage may also seem high (2.2% of the total flour), but the grains in the soaker also need salt, so the bread does not seem overly salty in the least.

  3. This formula makes a large batch of dough. It would have been difficult to mix it in my KitchenAid. I mixed it in my Bosch Universal Plus, which handled it with ease. If using a KitchenAid or similar stand mixer, you should consider scaling down the formula to 2/3 of that specified below.


Rye sourdough


Baker's %

Whole-rye flour

8 oz



6.7 oz


Mature sourdough culture

0.4 oz



15.1 oz





Baker's %


2.9 oz


Cracked rye (I used pumpernickel flour)

2.9 oz


Sunflower seeds

2.4 oz



2.4 oz


Water (boiling, if cracked rye)

13.2 oz



0.7 oz



1 lb, 8.5 oz



Final dough


High-Gluten flour (KAF Bread Flour)

1 lb, 8 oz


10.5 oz

Yeast (Instant)

0.19 oz


0.5 oz


1 lb, 8.5 oz


14.7 oz


4 lb, 10.4 oz



  1. Mix the sourdough and ferment it at room temperature for 14-16 hours.

  2. Prepare the soaker at the same time as the sourdough. Weigh out the grains and salt. Mix them. If cracked rye is used, boil the water and pour over the grains and mix. If using rye chops or coarse rye flour (pumpernickel), cold water can be used. Cover the soaker and leave it at room temperature.

  3. Mix all the ingredients thoroughly in a mixer bowl at low speed, then increase to medium speed (Speed 2 in a KitchenAid or Bosch) and mix to moderate gluten development. In my Bosch, I think this took around 10 minutes.

  4. Transfer the dough to

    a lightly oiled bowl. Cover tightly and ferment for 1 hour.

  5. Divide the dough into three equal pieces and shape into boules, bâtards or a combination.

  6. Proof for 50-60 minutes in brotformen or en couche.

  7. Preheat the oven to 480ºF with a baking stone and your steaming method of choice in place.

  8. Pre-steam the oven. Transfer the loaves to a peel. Score them and load them onto your baking stone. Steam the oven. Turn the oven down to 460ºF.

  9. After 15 minutes, remove your steaming apparatus, rotate the loaves if necessary for even browning, and turn the oven down to 440ºF. If the loaves are getting too dark, you can turn the oven down to 420ºF.

  10. Bake for 15 minutes more (or 10 minutes longer, if baking 2 lb loaves) and check for doneness. (Internal temperature 205ºF. Bottom sounds hollow when thumped. Crust nicely browned.)

  11. Turn off the oven but leave the loaves in, with the oven door ajar for another 7-10 minutes to dry the crust.

  12. Transfer the loaves to a wire rack and cool thoroughly before slicing.



Submitted to YeastSpotting




Subscribe to RSS - blogs